Solon not entirely happy with passage of coco levy fund law
Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan has placed on record his reservations on the bicameral committee’s final version of the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund, which would facilitate the release of the controversial coco levy fund.
The Bicameral Conference Committee on the controversial coco levy measure met yesterday to reconcile the disagreeing provisions of House Bill No. 5745 and Senate Bill No. 1233, creating the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund and providing for its management and utilization.
The committee agreed that the P100 billion coco levy fund, consisting of the P76 billion in Treasury and escrow accounts and an estimated P30 billion in assets, will form the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund, which shall be used exclusively for the benefit of coconut farmers and for the development of the coconut industry.
The coco levy fund came from the taxes imposed on coconut farmers’ products by the late dictator and his cronies.
The funds collected, then valued at P9.7 billion, is now estimated to have grown to around more than P100 billion.
Pangilinan noted that the final version of the Coconut Fermers and Industry Trust Fund law adopted the House version that does not limit the definition of farmers to those owning not more than five hectares of coconut farm.
He argued that deleting this limitation would effectively include large farm-owners.
Also, Pangilinan expressed reservations on provisions on the perpetual nature of the trust fund and the creation of a trust fund committee composed mainly of farmers, which he fought for during the deliberations in the Senate but were unfortunately not adopted.
“I cannot agree in that regard and therefore I have my reservations in respect to these amendments,” Pangilinan said.
“I place on record that I would have wanted the Bicam to restore some of the provisions that were not adopted in the Senate. In fact, it was in the House version, but now, it’s no longer in the House version which is the perpetual nature of the fund and the creation of the trust fund committee. So, again I would have to express my reservation to the final version of the Bicam,” he added.